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When should I see an optometrist?

It’s very important to keep an eye on your health, especially your vision. A person can be born with certain eye conditions, like myopia (short-sightedness) or experience a gradual decline in their vision, like macular degeneration, as they grow older. Find out when is the right time to visit the optometrist with these easy tips from Bloom.

Firstly, what does an optometrist do?

There are many different types of eye specialists, like opticians and ophthalmologists, but an optometrist specialises in eye care. These healthcare professionals are trained to examine, diagnose and treat conditions relating to the eyes. They’re able to perform certain medical treatments and minor surgical procedures for certain conditions and they can also prescribe eyeglasses, contact lenses and other visual aids to improve your vision.

Good eye health is not just a question of whether or not you need reading glasses. An optometrist tests for vision quality. This means they will inspect the condition of your eyes and in doing so will be able to detect any secondary or chronic conditions, like diabetes or high blood pressure during a routine eye examination. Optometrists are especially beneficial to children who may be experiencing learning problems at school due to poor vision. This is because children have no point of reference so they may not even be aware their eyesight is poor.

When you should visit the optometrist?

We advise booking an appointment should you experience any of, or a combination of, these symptoms:

1. Frequent headaches

Everyone experiences a headache once in a while but if your headaches persist then there may be cause for concern. If your headaches seem to emanate from behind your eye, there is a chance that optical issues are at play. Visual deterioration can place a massive strain on the eyes, which characteristically results in painful headaches, dizziness or even nausea. Find out more about headaches and eye problems from Hello Doctor.

2. Persistent eye pain

If your eyes feel tired or if you’re experiencing pain in your eyes, we recommend that you don’t delay and book a consultation with an optometrist. The same applies to the sensation of irregular eye movements. Do you squint a lot? If the answer is yes then you may suffer from a condition where one eye is stronger than the other or your eyes are tracking at a different pace. There’s no need to endure this type of discomfort as an optometrist can provide you with relief and remedy you need.

3. Abnormal vision development

Should your vision suddenly become blurred or if you experience any changes to the overall clarity of your eyesight, then it may be an indication that your vision is deteriorating. The optometrist will be able to determine the cause of this and provide you with a prognosis.

What is an eye test?

Many people are understandably nervous about having an eye test but it’s quite a simple procedure. Before the test the optometrist may enquire about your eye health including questions about your medical history.  During the eye test the optometrist will inspect the inner and outer part of your eyes using an ophthalmoscope, which is shone through the pupil of the eye. This will pick up any defects or specific eye conditions. The optometrist will also test your eye coordination, long distance and short distance vision. This is important as it will help the optometrist determine what type of prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses to prescribe you.

After the eye test, the optometrist will explain the results and discuss your options. Should they pick up on any medical conditions, like glaucoma or cataracts, they will refer you to a medical doctor specialising in eye care.

gentleman getting his eyes tested

Common eye conditions and diseases

There are many different types of refractive eye conditions. Some of the more common ones include:

  • Myopia (nearsightedness), which is characterised by faraway objects looking blurred
  • Hyperopia (farsightedness), which occurs when close-up objects look blurred
  • Astigmatism, which is a generalised blurred vision caused by the cornea not being shaped correctly to direct light into the eye
  • Presbyopia, which is caused by the loss of elasticity in the eye due to ageing.

There are also more serious eye conditions and diseases, like the following:

  • Glaucoma, which is caused by increased pressure of fluid inside the eye. If left untreated, this can cause irreparable optic nerve damage leading to permanent blindness.
  • Cataracts are the clouding of the lens, which causes blurry vision. This is quite a common condition in the elderly and can be remedied through cataract surgery where the damaged lenses are replaced with artificial lenses.
  • Macular degeneration is also a common eye condition affecting older people (age 50-60 years) and is characterised by blurred central vision.
  • Amblyopia, also known as ‘lazy eye’, occurs when one’s vision is not properly developed in both eyes. When this happens, the brain tends to favour the eye with the better vision.
  • Diabetic retinopathy is damage to the blood vessels of the retina which is commonly caused by diabetes. It is characterised by blurred spots in the field of vision and, if left untreated, can lead to permanent blindness.
  • Retinal detachment or tear occurs when the retina separates from the back of the eye. This causes blurred vision and can lead to permanent damage.

How much is an eye test?

If you have an eye test at a local optometrist, you can expect to pay between R90-R200. Momentum’s health insurance plan provides one eye test per member every second year.

What does the Health4Me optometry benefit cover?

You can expect to receive top-quality eye care with Health4Me. The Graphite and Titanium plans offer an optometry benefit that includes cover at any optometrist on the Momentum CareCross Optical Network, one eye test and one pair of clear, standard single vision lenses (or one pair of bi-focal lenses in a standard frame) every two years. 

How much does health insurance with optometry cost?

Our Graphite option starts at just R465 per month and the comprehensive Titanium option at R500 per month.

What is the procedure for booking an appointment for an eye exam?

You can make use of an approved network of optometrists. We’re happy to help you find an optometrist. Simply call us on: 0860 1029 03. The optometrist will test your eyes and tell you if you need eyeglasses. If your eye test shows a reading of 0.75 or more, the optometrist will show you a range of frames that you can choose from. Should you select a frame that is not part of the range, you will need to pay the difference in price. The lenses covered are a standard quality white CR39, single vision or bi-focal.

Find out more about the benefits and plans of health insurance with Bloom Financial Services. Contact our offices for more information and receive a free quote from one of our expert consultants.

Medical Content Disclaimer

You understand and acknowledge that all users of the Bloom Financial Services website are responsible for their own medical care, treatment, and oversight. All content provided on the website, is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Neither is it intended to be a substitute for an independent professional medical opinion, judgement, diagnosis or treatment.